How (and Why) to Keep a Garden Journal

How (and Why) to Keep a Garden Journal

By Michael Jenkins

At Gardzen, we’re focused on getting folks out into their gardens and working with the plants, sun, and soil. Our products are designed to make gardening as simple and convenient as possible, and to help you create the garden that you want in whatever space you have. For this blog entry, however, we’re going to shift focus a bit and talk about something that can be done indoors: keeping a garden journal. Garden journals are a great way to better understand your garden and your experiences with gardening. A garden journal can help you learn from  your successes, understand your mistakes, and refine your ideas for what to do next season. So, let’s dig in to the hows and whys of keeping a garden journal!

What is a Garden Journal?

Let’s start with the obvious question: What is a garden journal? As the name suggests, a garden journal is a written record of your garden. Within your garden journal, you’ll be able to keep an organized record of what happened over the course of a given season, what you planted, and how things turned out. You can make it as detailed as time and inclination allow—a garden journal is a personal thing, and the only thing that really matters is that you’re happy with it.

How to Keep a Garden Journal

There are no hard and fast rules on how to keep a garden journal. As we’ve said, it can be as detailed as you want; you can write about your plants, the weather, and how things are going, or include your thoughts and feelings for the day. You can update your journal daily, weekly, or on any other schedule you choose. While there are no rules for content, we do have some suggestions as to what you might consider including in your garden journal:

  • A diagram or drawing of your garden layout. We like using a piece of graph paper for this, so that we can map things out on square foot or square meter basis.
  • Photos, pictures, and sketches of your garden and its plants.
  • Records of the weather for the day or week, or of any interesting weather events.
  • Records of where and when you purchased plants and seeds.
  • Seed packets—these make wonderful reminders of what you grew, when you grew it, and what you did to help it grow!
  • Dates when you planted, transplanted, or divided/pruned your plants.
  • Dates of blossoming or harvest.
  • A list of what did well, what didn’t, and what to do differently next time
  • Your thoughts and feelings for the day, week, or month

Again, these are all suggestions: your garden journal is yours and you can include whatever you’d like in it! The only other suggestion we have is that you update your garden journal consistently. Whether daily or weekly, a garden journal—just like a garden—does best with regular attention.

Where to Keep Your Garden Journal

Because garden journals are so personal, there are any number of places you can record them. Some people like to use notebooks of various kinds and write down their thoughts, activities, and observations in them. Others prefer to use three ring binders with folder inserts to hold both their writings and receipts, seed packets, and photographs. Some of us enjoy keeping a garden journal digitally, either in the form of a folder and files on our computer or mobile device or as an online blog that can be shared with others. There’s no one “correct” way to keep a garden journal—again, it’s a personal thing and how it looks is absolutely up to you! There’s no reason to spend a lot of money on your garden journal, either: as with so many things in the garden, sometimes simple approaches are best.

We hope this blog inspires you to start a garden journal of your own. It’s a great way to record your successes, explore what didn’t go so well, and stay organized from season to season. Reading through past garden journals is also a wonderful way to spend time in the winter, when there’s not much gardening to do. We also hope that you’ll share your garden journal with us, at least in part. We’re all about community hear at Gardzen, and learning from each other is a big part of that!

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